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More good news this morning as retailers reported strong chain store sales and pending home sales showed a surprise jump.  If you’re a bear in this market you’re really grasping for bad news after the last few days of data:

Overall, sales at the more than 30 chains tracked by Retail Metrics surpassed estimates last month, rising 5.3 percent for a 14th straight gain, compared with a prediction of 3.5 percent. Sales gained 8.7 percent in March, the largest advance in a decade.

“Across the board, there was widespread strength,” said Ken Perkins, president of Swampscott, Massachusetts-based Retail Metrics. “The consumer is feeling better about their situation and is more inclined to spend on discretionary purchases. It bodes well for what will come over the next three and a half weeks.”

  • Pending home sales showed a surprise surge (via Econoday):

“In badly needed good news on the housing sector, the pending home sales index jumped 10.4 percent in October to indicate gains ahead for existing home sales. The index at 89.3 is up 18 percent from its post-stimulus low in June. Low home prices and low rates appear to be stimulating demand.”

  • Employment data was a bit more mixed this morning.  The Monster Employment Index slipped slightly from 136 to 134.  Jobless claims also jumped more than expected to 436K from last week’s 407K.  Continuing claims rose 53,000.  All in all this is still an improvement from the consistent 450K+ numbers we’d been seeing throughout most of 2010.

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